The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by A.F. Stewart
“Can you see the Shadow Man? Can you see the Shadow Man?”
Perched on the low wall at the edge of the playground, Annabelle listened to the boisterous chanting from the other children. She banged her heels against the stone and wanted to scream, “Yes! Yes, I can see the Shadow Man! He’s right there on the swing!”
Yet, she stayed silent. She stared at it, him, this ebon figure of insubstantial mist. And he stared back at her. She shivered, but she knew as long as he was still, as long as the swing didn’t move, they were safe.
“Annabelle! Come on!”
She turned her head at her mother’s voice, and jumped off the wall at her impatient glare. She had to go home. As she walked to the car, Annabelle glanced back. The Shadow Man smiled at her, a strange red glow where his teeth should be. Annabelle shuddered.
She climbed in the family car and her mother drove them home.
The next day Annabelle again sat on the playground wall. She knew the whispers came next. She wouldn’t give in. Not this time.
“Give me a name, Annabelle.”
She stared at her sneakers.
“Give me a name.”
Despite every resolve, she looked up, her eyes drawn to the new playground bully.
“Is it her? Is she the one?” Silence. Then, “She is. Give me a name, Annabelle.”
Annabelle closed her eyes, hesitated, yet whispered, “Becky.”
She gasped and her eyes snapped open. “I didn’t mean to—” But the Shadow Man smiled at her.
“Annabelle! Time to go!”
Shaking, Annabelle jumped off the wall. She walked towards her mother, glancing back at the playground. When the swing started moving she stopped watching. She climbed in the vehicle and shut the door.
Inside the car, Annabelle never heard Becky scream.
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from A.F. Stewart: